On the morning of Oct. 5, Leilani Simon called the police in a panic, claiming that her toddler was missing from their Savannah home and insisting that he had been abducted. But while the 23-year-old’s claims spurred national attention and a relentless search, authorities now say that by the time Simon called the police—she had already allegedly killed Quinton Simon and thrown his body in a mobile home dumpster.
The harrowing allegations are among several revealed in Simon’s indictment on Wednesday, after a Chatham County grand jury indicted the mother on 19 charges in connection with the 20-month-old child’s October death. Last month, the toddler’s body was discovered in landfill authorities had been searching for weeks.
Among the charges detailed in an indictment obtained by The Daily Beast include malice murder, concealing the death of another, false report of a crime, and false statements to police. Simon is being held at Chatham County Detention Center and it is not immediately clear if she has retained an attorney.
“I realize that this matter is really important to our community and also to the inquiring minds both here and beyond our community that want to know what happened to baby Quinton and how it happened,” Chatham County District Attorney Shalena Cook-Jones said in a press conference announcing the charges.
And the details of the case are anything less than jarring—including how many times Simon allegedly lied to police throughout the investigation and that she may have been on drugs at the time of the murder.
The indictment alleges that on or around Oct. 5, Simon murdered her son “with an object” that caused “cruel and excessive physical pain.” That same night, prosecutors say that in an attempt to conceal her son’s death, Simon discarded him “in a dumpster at Azalea Mobile Home Plaza, which hindered the discovery of whether Quinton was unlawfully killed.”
Afterward, as The Daily Beast previously reported, Simon texted a babysitter at around 6 a.m. to inform her that he would not be coming in that day—before calling authorities about three hours later to say that the 20-month-old was missing. The indictment states that when authorities were at the house, Simon admitted that she left their house in the “late night hours of October 4, 2022, to meet her drug dealer, falsely stating that the purpose of this meeting was to pay an existing drug debt.”
Prosecutors allege that Simon also falsely stated “that the only controlled substance of which she was a regular user was marijuana” and that she had only smoked in the last 24 hours. Later, the indictment said she admitted to using “controlled substances” the night of Oct. 4.
Simon allegedly lied a third time, claiming that she left her house in the early hours of Oct. 5 “to meet a friend ‘Misty’” to obtain Orajel, a topical pain reliever. The indictment states that Simon claimed that she met her friend at a Chevron service station—before later changing the story and allegedly stating they met at the mobile home.
In reality, prosecutors allege, she went to the mobile home to discard her son “in a dumpster.” Simon later said in a police interview that she only discarded “normal household garbage” in the mobile home trash.
The indictment also alleges that Simon even went as far as to suggest that it was actually her then-boyfriend who left their home overnight. Later, in an Oct. 8 interview, she admitted that it was her, not her former boyfriend, who left the house to the mobile home to meet her friend.
Simon then falsely stated “that she did not remember what she had done” at the mobile park.
But despite the early indications of Simon’s changing story, police began a massive city-wide search that included searching a landfill. Later, a video obtained by WSAV, showed Quinton’s grandmother, Billie Jo Howell, barging into his babysitter’s home demanding to know her grandchild’s whereabouts.
“My baby’s not dead,” Howell, who at the time had custody of Quinton and his siblings, yelled in the video. “You got Quinton? Do you have Quinton?” Howell was arrested this last week on a charge of contempt of court that is unrelated to Quinton’s death.
“These are the cases that keep us up at night. These are the cases that deserve justice,” Cook-Jones added on Wednesday.